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CHAPTER 8

MICAH GLITTERS
A LOOK AT THE END

In our last Chapter, we were involved in a trip in a record breaking heat wave extending over half a month, to the joys and beauties of the ocean. This, our current episode, has much more to say to us, and before we bid it farewell, we shall look with lingering wonder once more at the last Chapters of Micah, and let the oceanscape teach us as we go.

In the meantime, let us look at the inspiring and perspective imparting last chapters of Micah.

Micah 6-7 has all the sparkle that one expects of such a substance as mica,  physically in rock,
and does not lack the same when it is the word of God in the Rock of Christ. It is best first to have read Ch. 1, which is far more general in its coverage of Micah than this last chapter, which specialises specifically in the end chapters, and assumes the knowledge of the former things in its expansion of this phase of the book of the prophet Micah.
 
 

THE ENVIRONMENT OF TERMS, MERCY AMIDST MUD PILES

In Micah 6, we move from the astounding revelation of Christ, the Messiah, made in Micah 5:1-3, the text which enabled Herod's consultants to direct the majestic gentlemen from the East, to the birth-place of Christ, of the One whose goings are from everlasting. Here we read of this eternal Being, humbling Himself to come as a babe in the land of things that pass, this present world. But the word of God does not pass. Its passing reference therefore enabled these visitors to find the babe before His time of infancy was past, indeed, around the very time of His birth, though written many generations before.

But in Micah 6, we are  as is most natural for an inspired prophet performing at God’s behest, His pastoral and probing task to His people - confronted with the evils of Israel. Here the sins of a covenant people are reviewed, and their corruption as a nation, ostensibly under God, in the Micah 6:9 to 7:6. This too follows on an exposition of what is most necessary, for any walk with the Lord, who came to walk among men. What is required and not dispensable, we have found in Micah 6:6-8, is the necessity of a spirit of humility in worship, proper regard for just living and the delight in mercy, before the living God (cf. Romans 3:23--26, 6:1-6). God, we learn there in Romans 3, has given Christ as propitiation, covering redemption, that HE might be just and the free justifier of him who believes in Christ; and this being so, we find in Romans 6, "our old man {nature} was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin."

Not the blood of animals, or even of one's children, can atone, unless what uses atonement is itself linked by faith, receiving the ways of God in truth, and knowing "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). To walk humbly with your God, you must know Him, and to know Him, you must have faith, for without faith, you cannot please Him (Genesis 15:6, Hebrews 11:6, Romans 4:20-5:1). Multiplicity of offerings, then,  is not the story, whether of bulls then or masses now. It is mercy which is the key, and the recognition in heart of justice, which is the way; and this involves the smiting of the Judge of Israel with the rod upon the face, as in Micah 5.

After all, it is GOD who is to be smitten on the face (Micah 5:1,3) with a rod, when He comes as man. The sacrifice, as in Isaiah 52-55, is one which must be divine in substance, received by faith, and realised to be totally efficacious in itself (Isaiah 53:5-10, 55:1-4).

When this is done, then it is with the realisation that it is not the plenitude of religious observances which counts, but the plenary character of remission BY MERCY ONLY (as in TItus 3:3-7). As it is divine, received by faith, then it is effectual, activated by God.

With these divine matters revealed, and the human rejoinder, both negatively and positively, explored, we come, as just noted, to this review of the sins of the people of Israel in 6:9-7:6. It is quite devastating. It is deplorably deficient, actively contrary. The curse supervenes on the straying people, whose chronic rebellion in spirit is made a marked feature so often, here as in Isaiah 1, 30.
 
 

THE VOICE OF FAITH, THE REFLECTIONS IN THE REMNANT

In Micah 7:7, we hear the voice of faith, as if reflected from the remnant (cf. Isaiah 10:22, 6:13, Micah 5:3, Isaiah 11:16), whose faith soars over the cliffs of destruction, into the wind of refreshment and revival.

Here we audit a speaking from the heart, for the nation, declaring that there is to be AN END to the contempt and the mockery of the nation by those against it and against its homeland (7:7-10). Bearing the national shame, well enough deserved, though militantly and remorselessly augmented by men in their carnality, the people come to a better heritage, a mercy of divine proportions. "When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The LORD will be a light to me" - Micah 7:8. For this reason, the admonition pounds like surf to the tormentors of Israel: "Do not rejoice over me, my enemy" and it is then that we learn, "When I fall, I will arise". Meanwhile, "I will bear the indignation of the LORD" (67:9), since sin has its imprimatur! Yet, "He will bring me forth to the light". Not only so, but "I will see His righteousness" - Micah 7:9. This reminds us of the promises of Isaiah 44:3-5, including this,
 

  • "I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
    And My blessing on your offspring;
    They will spring up among the grass
    Like willows by the watercourse.
    One will say, 'I am the LORD's':
    Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
    Another will write with his hand, The LORD's,
    And name himself by the name of Israel."


The bearing of sin, meanwhile, is to occur UNTIL a time, just as Jerusalem would be trodden down of the nations UNTIL a time, that when the innings of the nations alien to and other than Israel was finished - Luke 21:24; and this, moreover, is just as blindness has happened in part to Israel UNTIL "the fulness of the Gentiles has come in", Romans 11:25. Interestingly, the UNTIL in Luke 21 is similarly "UNTIL the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled", in total agreement with Romans 11, This is placed in the periodicity, the phasing of Jew first, then Gentile, then back to the Jews congregating into the midst of their own olive tree, into which the Gentiles are by now grafted in, is to be seen. Israel, started, went; Gentiles came, have their time fulfilled; then it is Israel once again, and it comes naturally enough, when the TIMES of the Gentiles is finished. It is all timed, programmed, precise.

WHEN this periodicity reaches the phase of Jewish restoration, there are to be two phases as we have seen in Ezekiel 36-37 (cf. SMR Appendix A and Ch. 3 above). One is the geographic return of Israel, likened to the re-assemblage of dry and scattered bones, the figure of their inflicted affliction, their discipline and promised dire and gaunt exile period, both prolonged and despised. The other and second phase is this: their spiritual awakening, likened to the placing of spirit into the reassembled bones, the prophetic  prelude to their worship of the King who is God.

In Micah we are seeing the international repercussions of the dramatic divine mercy to be shown to the remnant, whose desolatory experience has been that of a sinning nation, breaching the covenant and specifically aligned with castigation for this. We are seeing something of what Paul describes in Romans 11:26ff..

This castigation of Israel has been traced in Micah 6:9-7:6, in continuity, and now here in Ch. 7:7 ff., it is mitigated, indeed overthrown in amazing style. It is not only as we shall see, in categorical contrast with the weakening and contempt endured during the discipline, but it is even accompanied by an overthrow of the loutish superiority of those who have rejoiced in the decline of the Jews, who indeed killed their King, of those despising her, who haveeven exacerbated her fall. The language is sonorous, the impact is terrible, the exposure devastating: but THIS time, it is of the lordly arrogance of sinning Gentiles, filled with comparative self-esteem, vaunting, taunting and tedious in their self-love.
 

  • As to her "who is my enemy",
  • she "will see,
  • And shame will cover her who said to me,
  • 'Where is the LORD your God?' ".


Why is this so ? Why is such a thing to follow ? There is to be an impact. The lordly Gentiles unrestrained in their contempt have had their day. What will become of them ? "Now she will be trampled down, like mud in the streets." This is a shameful looking thing, and it is to be experienced by Israel taunting specialists, arrayed against her as an enemy. It is a time, then, of shame to the enemies of Israel, blame, and for Israel, of deliverance that is manifest, sudden, complete.

Thus the enemies will at last lapse in their lordliness (7:10).

Jerusalem, and indeed cities of Israel are - after profound tribulation, including their revolt against the Messiah of 5:1-3, against therefore God Himself on earth - to be rebuilt. This amazing mercy, totally astounding under the circumstances of what Israel the nation did, is to come as the people are to be restored in their land, with their walls, BY DIVINE DECREE (Micah 7:11).

Resulting, and in part cause, are hordes of Israel, returning from many lands, including Iraq, as has happened of course (7:12).

Meanwhile the earlier punishment in Micah's day, still to come, is re-affirmed, providing contrast to the restoration to follow (7:13).

Ancient days are evoked, now, as ultimate blessings are reviewed (7:14).

It will not be a placid restoration, however, like the ghostly mists of evening, on the quiet sea's face (7:15). On the contrary, it will, to accomplish such things, require a very prodigy of divine intervention (7:15), comparable with the Exodus in magnitude and scope, and the fame and
reverberations for the deliverance of Israel will form, now as then,  an historic matrix for the nation.What then must we observe in the Exodus, here mentioned for comparison, making just parallel in the text of Micah ? THIS is the measure of the Lord's action. What did that measure include ? in what sort of dimension is to occur Israel's deliverance from her enemies ?

IN those days of the Exodus, then,  there were at least two major elements.

  • 1) There was the military aspect, in which powerful and concerted forces were smashed in a simply devastating overthrow by divine fiat.
     
  • 2) There was the significance of it all, covenantally, as the blood of the lamb's sacrifice was painted on the door of the dwellings to be delivered differentially, as the Angel of the Lord brought judgment to Egypt's sons, for not allowing God's child, Israel, to return home (as so many have done since! in our generation). THIS was the very commencement exercise for nothing less than the Passover, and Christ is our Passover, so that this is central in the bud, to the heart  of the bloom. It is central in the Old Covenant, to its fulfilment in the New.


 

It is in this setting that the word of God sees fit to make the parallel with the Exodus*1. This, as a case,  was prime in intervention, prime in power at the physical level, and prime in spiritual portent. It instituted the nation again, as independent from her tormentors, and proceeded with formulations of its entire specificity, in the Mosaic covenant, as a development and specialisation of the Abrahamic, which, as noted in Ch.  4 above   , being unconditional, continued unchanged. This Paul notes in Romans 4, with considerable emphasis!

Thus in Micah 7:15 we find that there is to be a divine interposition, intervention, comparable with that of the Exodus, the fame and reverberations of which for the deliverance of israel still form an historic matrix for the nation, often reviewed in the Psalms (as in Psalm 80, 105, 106).

This divine intrusion, or - since after all, HE made it all, AND made the unconditional covenant with Abraham (Micah 7:20) - gracious favour, itself is a mercy, will, like the Exodus, be utterly amazing TO THE ALIEN and HOSTILE NATIONS. This, here, as before was the case with Egypt in the Exodus, will be brought to shame for their arrogant disdain and rambunctious assertions, their contemptuous disregard for a people disciplined, but not historically dumped... for Israel.

The covenant of Abraham stands, and is to be executed in the very face of nations to be humbled by divine execution of His own promised keeping power (Micah 7:15-17). This is perfectly explicit as this Chapter ends (Micah 7:15-17, 19-20). It is the truth to JACOB, and the mercy, SWORN to Abraham which is in view, and as noted in Ch. 4 this included unconditional terrain allocation for Israel. Here it is expressly seen in re-possession, as sure in act as was the extradition from Egypt.
This is an IN, that was an OUT, but in each case the people is reconstituted, the promise is kept, God acts according to promise, and acts for this particular nation, under unique historical review, with parallel from nothing else on earth: ISRAEL.

This being so, the point is taken, the land is taken, the obstruction is removed, the parallel, double in intensity and immensity, with the Exodus for this people occurs, and that in the midst of military language in no way ambiguous, asserting the destruction of opposition, the shame of the attackers, the overthrow of their forces and the restoration of the cities of Israel, that Israel so divinely disciplined for lse-majest in the very face of divine blessing, for fickleness in the arena of covenant. Ezekiel  36:23-29, complete with its covenantal sprinking,  as noted earlier, captures this roundly!

That God Himself, so maltreated when the people had an opportunity so to deal with their King (Micah 5:1-3), should so act, to "give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham" (7:20) is in terms of what He has "sworn to our fathers in days of old". He does not vary, as James points out in 1:17.

It is strange but true that some seem to imagine*2 that God ought not to allow this concentration on His divine faithfulness AND mercy. It seems to be felt that the swallowing up of the animal sacrificial system, as predicted in Isaiah 52-53, with 66, should prevent God from doing anything else. It seems to be felt, by some, that the divine faithfulness is NOT a proper topic for display, whereas in fact, if He were NOT faithful to the point that He has no equal, so that BP chemical purity, were it applicable, would be far surpassed, so that in fact, He is the very criterion and centre and source of all faithfulness: then nothing, covenantal or otherwise would be secure.

So far is this from really being the case, that the faithfulness of God is a repetitive feature in Ezekiel 36-37's treatment of the very same topic, and it is in fact made a composite, in this, that there is equal and continuing stress on the fact that Israel's restoration is not only a mercy, a faithfulness, but one which is accomplished CONTRARY to the merit situation. It is DESPITE DEMERIT that Israel is brought back, and BECAUSE of divine faithfulness. These of course (as in Ephesians 2) are central features, both, in the Gospel. An astonishing grace never wavers in its intent, and a divine faithfulness carries out to the full, its marvellous intent. Israel is not exempt from such qualities of divine dealing; and the nation is not excluded, which God includes, in the exposure of His mercy, faithfulness and deliverance in the very face of demerit, and before the astonished countenances of Israel's implacable enemies.

Thus this Micah 7:15 deliverance, specified for the covenantally sinning people, illustrates one giant fact concerning the very nature of God, as the prophet declares: in mercy, He is prodigious, incomparable, without parallel, as able as willing to show it, knowing well how to blot out iniquities and propitiate anger. In so showing mercy in this way, He will however, not only cast our sins "into the depth of the sea", but actively "subdue our iniquities". This too is monumental in majesty in Micah, as seen in Micah 7:15:

     "Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage.
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.

     "You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have shown to our fathers
From days of old."

(On 7:18-19, see Sinners Only, for application indeed to all, just as it is - like so much else, occasioned by the deeds to some in its actual utterance as a generic principle.)

So does Micah paint the scene from the rejected Messiah, in Ch. 5, to the rejected nation in Ch. 6-7, its programmed and prophetic restoration in Ch. 7, the spiritual incisions to be made into the heart of its people, and the faithfulness of the only God, whose mercy likewise is more stark than the light of the stars, dancing in the blackness of the night. It is He who shines like a brilliant radiance into the midst of the wall of enmity and contempt, and restores His people by His own will, to their own place, in His own way, according to His own word, which is then used as a rocket launcher to assure one, to assure all of the magnificence of His mercy (Micah 7:19), and the certainty of His specifically declared faithfulness (Micah 7:20).
 
 

THE GHOSTLY BEAUTY

In our own narrative, the ghostly beauty of softening light in the gentle mist about the coasts bordering the cliffs, over the ocean, and the township with its pine frontage reminds us how quickly the heat, the enormous and even record breaking heat can  change. Back in Adelaide there was, in the acuteness of the change, to be a suburb INUNDATED destructively with sudden, sharp and massive rainfall. So does the world face, with its nations to be rebuked for FAR more reasons than one, and so is it to be confronted with a record tribulation (Daniel 12:1-3, Matthew 24:21).

Then, however, when the Messiah has finished His honour's work for Israel, His restoration of the Jews, His mercy to Abraham and to Jacob, and differentially delivered them from the desolations which He Himself had provided in special derogation of their default against Him in their lives and hearts for so long and in so much; and when He has finished His mercy's harvest as in Zechariah 12, Ezekiel 36-37, Romans 11, Micah 7, then, when the frustrated arrogance against Himself and His rule, His apportionments whether of land, of covenant, of grace, of mercy, of the kingdom, and subdued: then the Lord returns with all His saints (Zechariah 14:5, I Thess. 3:13).

It is then that there will be a glory of inundating depths and illimitable scope (cf. Matthew 13:43, Daniel 7:13-14). "The earth will be filled with knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). It is THE EARTH, which first finds this abundance (cf. Revelation 20, Micah 4, Isaiah 2, 65).

The earth, covered like that! like the waters covering the sea! What a glory it is then! What is it
like ? Expansive without effort, grand without diminution of power or faded praise, multiple, magnificent, indubitable and filled with subtle graces while enormous in dimension, almost as if all thought of dimension must be forgotten. So does the water of the ocean speak, and so does it cover.

There is a dimension of righteousness, as of grace, which, like the highest mountains in the aerial repose, glittering in the sun and shrouded in the mist, has such appetite and aspiration to stir, while reposing in such seeming infinitude of loftiness, that it reminds at once of the glory of the Maker (cf. Psalm 36:6). So will the earth, oceanic in parallel, inescapable like the ocean waters, without omission or default, be covered, be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.

By contrast, the failure of Clintonesque zeal of recent US dealings with Israel and her enemies of the year 2000, inimical to the integrity of the land, indeed the vast aerial supply chain made so munificent from the US in Israel's battles of 1973, the historic arising when all seemed but a mockery of degradation and evil intent in 1948, the Balfour Declaration and its remarkable effects, the aroused viciousness of Iraq's military pugnacity and its overthrow in 1991, the overcoming o British unreliability in 1948, and the Russian reluctance for so long thereafter - one now duly mitigated - for the restoration of the resident Jewry to Israel: all these things are but torches in the predicted night. They are however indicative torches! (cf. II Peter 1:19).

It is a night leading to equally predicted day, a day of multiple drama and spiritual repentance in the land, promised Abraham (Micah 7:19-20, Zechariah 12:10).

Moreover, this element of the closing days of the Gentiles, attested with sublime simplicity by the restoration of Israel to its alloted, apportioned premises (as in Deuteronomy 32, Luke 21:24), is
but part of a divine plan so enormous in scope, majestic in quality (Romasn 11:33, Ephesians 3:3ff.), so multiple in facet, so unitary in core, that Paul exclaims, after his review of Romans 11, in verse 33:

  • "Oh the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"


 

  • They are however in so much revealed that we find the glory of the lustre (I Cor. 2:9-13), and ignorance in the face of light is preferred darkness! "I would not," says Paul, "have you ignorant!" (Romans 11:25).

 

What then ? Paul declares: "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36).
 

 

 

THE RENDING TIMBERS OF FRENETIC IMAGINATION
AND THE INDISPENSABLE TRUTH

It is time to reflect on the facts.

Now the galloping events have their day, coming into the final lap (as esp. SMR Ch. 8 shows in some detail, in parallel with other places on this site, such as Answers to Questions  5). They rush, they roar, the clatter of hooves reaching to developments in Israel, Jerusalem, Church and Gentile nations in synchronisation and symmetry of fulfilment, separately and in unison; these predicted events reach to such a height and depth of war, famine, evil, folly, arrogance, cruelty, depravity, and that combination of spiritual sleep, erotic and perverse excitement, delusion and drunkenness of spirit,  attested in endless seeming sects (cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8) as in falling denominations of former relative stability, that the warning intense, and to the lost macabre. Yet they may repent.

The warning ? It is like that of the distant, low throated, high peril voice of the reverberating fog horn, alerting ships, when mist threatens safety and rocks yearn amid the threshing foam.

It is well to listen, to heed.

God is at work, the Messiah has come on time (SMR pp. 886ff.), and long has been the time for the Gospel to penetrate to all nations, as Christ specified MUST happen before His return in glory (Matthew 24:14, 30ff.); great has been the patience of the living God (II Peter 3:9). His love is not the less because the end of the mutiny is at hand, the Gentile rebellion, with so much in parallel to that of the Jews,  having been given millenia for its every list and wish, deceit and twist.
 

It is the Lord's own return which will, equally, be on time, though in this instance it is not the date which is accorded us, but the tartan of events (Luke 21:24-28). It is NOT in the midst of glory and plenty that He comes, but to a desolatory pit of sin (as in Zechariah 14, II Thessalonians 2, I Thessalonians 1, Matthew 24). His return is not merely to be attested in its nearness by this pattern of the predicted, but by its being unexpected. It is almost as if a coach told his team,

Look, on Saturday you will make the following errors, and for all that, when you have done it, you will be deaf and blind still, and they will then do this and that, and you, not knowing it all, though I have told you, will fall for it as if made of mutiny and emptied of all vision.


The Lord moreover is very wise and knows just how to expose the enmity; but the time He withholds with intent (Matthew 24:45ff., Acts 1:6ff.).

For many, it will be like the sudden, all too unheeded, onset of that jar that becomes a crash, a rending, a sundering, a division of the ship and a sinking among the heedless waves, as unresponding as the captain of the ship, the deaf leader, the one who WOULD not heed.
 
 

NOTES

*1
The deliverance is prelude to and dimensionally parallel to the final Exodus, of Gentile and Jew, swept to their deliverance as a people from many nations (I Peter 2:9, I Thessalonians 4), whether newly converted, as in much of Israel, by Romans 11, or of longer Christian standing. It is followed by a rebuke to the whole earth (cf. Isaiah 24), reminiscent of that to Pharaoh, and his presumptuous host (The Other News Appendix II provides the tabulated parallel in this greater scope).

The Christians, from whatever clime or covenant now reaching the New Covenant (as in Ephesians 2:11ff., Isaiah 65:13-15, 62:1-3), testify to the end, as did Moses to Pharaoh, but except for such as are  to be saved, it will not listen any more than did Pharaoh. Moved by love, and willing to pay with sacrifice, they love not their lives to the death as required, overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (cf. Luke 21:15, Revelation 12:11). Thus does the love of God drive them on till the day breaks (Revelation 12:11, 11:7ff. - cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 5).
 
 

*2  EXCURSION ON THEOLOGICAL SUPERMARKETS

There is a jumble sale of -isms available in the theological supermarkets. There are various contrivances and compilations of error which are to some extent comprehensible, but which lack the simple necessity of following in EVERY INSTANCE what is written. They include what is not provided, or exclude what is.

Thus there are various imaginations.

a) Postmillenialism.

This puts the millenium in the past. In view, however,  of Christ's statement in John 14:30 and Revelation 20:1ff. on the topic of the evil one's binding apart from the world, this is all but incomprehensible, until one begins to consider that same, age-old problem, of ADDING to God's word, from books, from historical circumstances, or whatever; or subtracting (cf. Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:31-32, Proverbs 30:6, and by implication, Matthew 5:17-20, Revelation 22:18-19).

It is APPLIED in history, GAINED from internal definition, for OTHERWISE, quite simply, you are of necessity adding to it. Dictionary meanings are normally able to be taken, though with some care, since the lexicographical task is not least to STUDY ALL the usages in the Bible, or in a given language within it, and to ensure that the cast of meaning reflects this, so that it is scholarship, not eisegesis which applies.

In the case of postmillenialism, on the surface the most devastating decline from simple scriptural statement to the exact contrary, one can at last see this: that IF one thought of some period of expansion of the church, apostolic presence, miraculous power and so forth, and felt that this had ceased, then one might wonder, if not bound adequately to the word of God, whether perhaps THIS was the millenium. NOW then it would be past! If one had an amillenial bent, not wanting a millenium despite Revelation 20 dictum to the contrary, and the advices of Isaiah 2, Micah 4, Isaiah 65 and so on, then the demission of that period might be attractive.

The main trouble is that the Bible specifies NO SUCH period before the return of Christ, since the Prince of this world is coming, who statedly has no PART IN CHRIST. Was he considered to be coming to stay until Christ returned, or just for a while then, one could ask ? First, Christ does not put other terminus on that evil one's endeavours, and adding to the word of God is prohibited (Proverbs 30:6). Secondly, the depiction in Matthew 24 is

i) unrelieved in its engrossment in evil (Matthew 10:16-26).
ii) commissioned without variation of kind of work to be done, until the evils arise and grow: not reduce and truncate, or wait until permitted to start. There is no such word whatever.

The start is NOW (Matthew 10, Luke 21), and there is no phase of redress or regress from this evil force ever envisaged until He returns, Himself to defeat it direly (Revelation 19), after which it can be set aside for the millenium.

Within this sort of view, there is perhaps a poignant element. While the Pentecostalists parade with professions and impressions, and multiplication of ceremonies unauthorised in scripture such as multiple tongues speaking simultaneously, not limit on the number, no interpreter in ALL cases, elevation instead of degradation of the tongues gift, in fact a specialty for occasion, and so forth (cf. A Question of Gifts), it is understandable how some, faced with this sort of clamour, whether ancient in kind in Montanism, or current, are revolted and over-react. THAT power and glory of the Lord in personal direct action was for FORMER TIMES, they would like to assert. Many do so.

Unfortunately, this is not only to LIMIT the word of God, but to contradict it (as in Ephesians 1:19ff. James 5). Both these steps are forbidden and to the point, erroneous. Glamorising and amending alike are forbidden. it is, to repeat. a simple matter of following what is given, not inventing, not discarding. God does what He pleases, in His own good pleasure; but when He speaks, it is HE, not we, our race or preference, our advisers or counsellors,  who are to be consulted.

It may seem to help pastorally, no doubt, not to have to work within the confines of the Bible when power is required (note in II Timothy 3, a religion of FORM, without the POWER of God is attacked as one of the end-time prodigies), and not carefully, to find the mind of Christ. Doing just that in one such case, is well exhibited in works like those of the mission in South Africa, earlier noted (Things Old and New Ch. 3, End-note 1A). However, the endlessly right counsel when dealing with, and being governed by the Lord is not changed: DO WHAT IT SAYS.

       DO NOT add, limiting by human philosophy to mission field, the salient work of healing;

       DO NOT subtract, adding to all healing, as if it were a divine right to be better than Paul (II Corinthians 12:7-9), for whom a sickness was a limit to dangers of self-elevation, or than Job, for whom sickness was an acute challenge, permitted in order to display the integrity of his faith and love to God (see Job in index).


Truth, as so VERY often in Biblical matters, is in NEITHER EXTREME, though of course in some cases virtually every presentation is wrong, as in the days of Roman Inquisition, where the truth was not so readily available, because of the flames, though many were they who kept the faith flag flying, at enormous and prodigious cost. That cost is so deplorably undermined by such consensus arrangements as appear in the Billy Graham organisation's founder, and his words at his degree conferment from an RC organisation, a calamity to which reference was made earlier.

The end is as specified; the way is as specified; the promises are as specified; the need is as specified for discretion, moderation and accuracy with the word, keeping as in Moses, so now, to all of it, adding nothing to it, subtracting not a whit.

Fanatical is precisely what this is not. On the contrary, to do otherwise comes all too close to earning such an epithet. IF GOD speaks, then do not think of altering it, or amending. If you do not however BELIEVE this, then so be it. We are presently dealing with a wholly other question, INTERPRETATION of what is written. To reject authority or integrity, in the Bible or in a Shakespearean text, in this alike, is NOT to interpret, but to intrude.

b) Amillenialism

and other railroading of the term 'Israel', which has its own specifications, according to context.

This, as the name implies, wants also to be rid of a coming millenium. We need not concern ourselves further with this common feature.

However, it is often associated with the concept that the word Israel, for the New Testament era, is voided of all Jewish reference, of all prophetic import in terms of the oath to Abraham and the promise to Jacob, as Micah puts it in his end-time observations from the Lord.

As shown earlier in this volume, it is not possible to evacuate from every context, or from many contexts indeed, the unique specifications which apply, and can apply, to Israel the nation, descended from Abraham, accorded the land of Israel by unconditional promise, repetitively (see Ch. 4 above for the exact specifications, and SMR Appendix A for further on the point).

British Israelitism has other plans for Israel, and would rather like to see a British kingdom in some exotic way inherit what is continually affirmed for Israel, as we have seen at length. This deplorable invention is, again, though wholly contrary to the word of God in its precise formulations, comprehensible in measure, in terms of the ULTRA-biblical formulae which are so often brought in, as in the other cases above. Here one can see that in the day of the British power, and don't you know, the kingdom set up with NO RC and the Bible as the book of divine wisdom to be received as such at coronation, with power and glory, so that the sun never set on its enlightened rule: there could be a hope, a glimmer, an un-biblical desire to have THIS as the seat, the beat, the meat of the matter.

Alas, whatever happened to the 10 tribes, expatriated and expunged from the record AS an entity, and allowed merely to correlate and become one with Judah at the end (as explicitly in Ezekiel 37), it is of mere mundane interest and endless hypothesis.

Where someone can establish a lineage to satisfy Israel, well; and where some are received by the restored nation of Israel, for this national reason or other, or become proselytes, well. However it is not at all to the point to WONDER where and if some tribe landed here, or amalgamated there, to the loss of all identity in terms of the discipline liberally given to chronic sin (as in II Kings 17). They had no regathering such as applied to Judah, when Nebuchadnezzar removed that people in masses to his own kingdom, and when as predicted, Cyrus of the Medes restored them after 70 years: with the time as Jeremiah 25 predicted, the name as Isaiah foretold. Their only succeeding glory was this, that any from such sources would RETURN in the latter days, and find a place where all the tribes, as many as came and were received, could be one, as predicted. This was to be and is.

Israel cannot be waylaid or exploited philosophically or verbally, in nomenclature, from a Biblical perspective, any more than militarily and politically. It is quite fascinating and an index to the importance the works of darkness find in diverting the world's eyes from the simple predictive facts and their current monumental fulfilment, that so much effort, so misplaced, so textually impossible, is made to change what is written, and to ignore what, in turn has happened.

Nothing avails but the word prevails, repeatedly categorical in its multiple bases of definition for Israel, as we have shown. It was to and did, return to the land apportioned unconditionally, without any qualification, to Abraham.

Israel, it must be said for the amillenialist, however, his perhaps the best of the errors for THIS VERY REASON, CAN be a term in some contexts which is used to mean various connotations. Thus we can note two of these here.

A) The reference can be to Israel converted, so that we are looking at a distinctly and decisively converted body, as a contingent in the Church of God. Yes it can so participate and such a context would be clear in Isaiah 60, where upon the restoration, they will call "your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise".

It is true, that here the phrasing is this:

"And they shall call you, The City of the LORD,
Zion of the Holy One of Israel",

but the intent is clear, though it is only equitable to note that this is the formulation, not simply 'Israel', as if to help the reader to be alert.

Nor is this all. We can specify another focus.

B) In Isaiah 65:13-15, it is manifest that the coming glory of the Lord in Israel, spiritually,  is going to be ONLY in the New Covenant, so that when in Isaiah 66 we find that the glory of the Lord is NOT as that point seen by some, so that the Jews sent out as missionaries abort the Old Covenant procedure, in this,  that some Gentiles are to be for 'priests': it is apparent that we are not dealing merely with Israel as a Christian additive, on the basis of the ONLY Gospel, but as a Christian component, working harmoniously with others not Jewish, in evangelisation, as now.

This must be NOW, for when the LORD DOES COME, then EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM (Revelation 1:7), and tribes shall mourn. Hence it COULD not be that there was a procession of missionaries to deal with those AFTER the return of Christ, who had not seen His glory (as in Isaiah 66:19). Here, in Isaiah 66 at this point,  are Jews (as has happened of course, most notably in Paul) with Gentiles doing the work jointly.

Their Jewishness is not obliterated, but here it is not relevant, except in noting the advance in concept. This brings the pulse of reality to the spiritual combination, which is finally made massive, when Isaiah 66:15*3 happens. What however here is to be consummated in power, has been initiated in grace which we are then permitted to see, as in a narrative of Hiroshima, reflecting on the ways which led to it, and contrasting the preliminaries with the holocaust. The sign noted in these missionary terms, the only one relevant (66:19), is that of the cross, that, of course spiritually discerned and interpreted (Galatians 6:14, Romans 3:23ff.), which sums up the Gospel when properly understood in its depths and dimensions. This was to happen, and has most notoriously happened. The military side of it has yet to happen, though the preliminaries of Zechariah 12-14, have most famously transpired already!

Here then is one of those penetrating cases where the principles required make proper an interpretation in terms of them, with this result.

On the depth and subtlety of Isaiah's multiple references and shades, see Chapter 4, above, at pp. 113, where a list is given showing in detail the diverse but complementary movement in Isaiah,  and 120ff., where an excursion is made,  especially into Isaiah 42 and 49, but with reference to 66.

This realisation that there is a complexity and profundity of reference, now this, now that, for ‘Israel’, with need as in any exact study, to analyse the differences, the components, the facets, and to see the totality in its exactitude, is not DUE to the amillenialist. It is however helped in this, that such a fact helps some to avoid the DISPENSATIONALIST escapades, and hence is a stablising force to that extent, and a reminder of one of the aspects. It is perhaps ironic that even though amillenialism can serve in this way, it is at the cost of precision itself, ignoring the many contexts in which the Lord makes further and various points, as we have seen in this Chapter, indeed points of the utmost significance. Indeed, HE makes it clear that HE WILL do these things concerning Israel, and has done most of them already, so that it is quite unwise to meet with pseudo-scholarly savvy, the pure spiritual dynamic of the Lord.

It is better far, can one say it too often ? to keep to ALL that the LORD says in EVERY context, and to live by EVERY WORD WHICH PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD (as Christ showed, Matthew 4:4, when He Himself was tempted!).

c) Dispensationalism.

This is in essence, simply a failure to see the integrity, as in Romans 4, of the whole gospel over all time, the everlasting gospel, from the first to the last, and a deplorable failure to note the various guide-lines which determine interpretation, such as the Gospel as ineradicable, immutable and irreversible.

For this, see Christ, Unsurpassable Pinnacle, Ch. 9 of Biblical Blessings, Deliver Us from Dispensationalism, Biblical Blessings Ch. 3, The Everlasting Gospel in Barbs, Arrows and Balms  17

.

See also Dispensationalism in the Index.

Romans 4 makes it deliciously clear that the faith of Abraham is still operative, is now salvation- wise, vested in Christ as the basis, just as before it was in the faithfulness of God who would provide; and that in each case it is always and altogether a matter of divine grace and performance, not human attainment. The law is not another way of salvation, nor does it contribute except in emphasis, and most essentially, to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13), and all that this reflects. FAITH was always operative (Romans 4:6, 20-21) without exemption or exception from Abraham's day (cf. the penalties for its omission in Deuteronomy 29:19), and grace was always the only way, as with David, when it was a delight of his, that blessed was the man to whom the Lord would not impute iniquity (Psalm 32).
 
 

GAINS - PAINS - and DUE CARE

As in all of these cases, some value may be gained however, even from contemplating the error, which divides and sunders and makes future what is present, in all sorts of contrivances, as if God were in some way divided, and did not indeed have an everlasting Gospel, present whether in Abraham or Paul, more fully revealed merely in the latter. Thus is the power and presence of God, the stability and strength of His way forgotten in various constructions without warrant, contrary to the word of God, stealing His words by putting them - into something else, somewhere, not for us! In terms of the word of Christ to Satan, it is stressed that when God says something, inapplicability is not an assumption, but requires demonstration! MAN SHALL LIVE BY EVERY WORD WHICH PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.

When God takes the trouble to come and tell us how to live, to waft His words away to someone else, some other time lacks one thing: a ground for the qualification that is provided, which makes futuristic what is WITHOUT QUALIFICATION declared to the people of the present. This is quite simply to add to the word of God, and hence, to subtract, since the addition is a negative sign!

What then is the value that may be found from dispensatinanlism. Alas it is very indirect!

in such a case as Zechariah 14. Here we see 14:16 apparently referring to the feast of tabernacles as to be done, long after the return of the Messiah in power. It is not by insight, but by omission that dispensationalism's trend can help some here. IF this were not interpreted by the overall KEY, that the former things do not come to mind (as in Jeremiah 3:16), not even the ark, in the New Covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31), and that of Isaiah 66:1-3 with 52-53, and with Isaiah 65:13-15, where the whole former covenant is replaced with the New: then ludicrous reversions contrary to Hebrews 8-10 and all else, might be seen. It is by alerting in its enormities, that dispensationalism could help some, to wake up, that God does not expect you to imagine that He cannot, if He will, use former  things to express later things, when the key of interpretation is expressly provided, and prohibition on any other interpretation is superadded!

These things, then, are merely the MEANING of the feast of tabernacles, the spiritual import, which is being expressed by a means which the very book of Zechariah is most forward in presenting not only in 9:9, or in 12:10, but in 13:6 and 11:12, with the total review of the transition in 3:6-9 and 6:12-13. We ourselves can do the same; it is a literary licence. If we wish to refer to the torture chambers of the Inquisition, in meaning the attitude these evoke, that is a mere matter of usage and custom, literary allusion and the like. For a good writer, however, it should be made clear that one is so acting, and in the Bible, it is made superabundantly clear. The Old Covenant, says Hebrews 8, is now obsolescent, fading away. That does not imply that it is to have recrudescence, but as Jeremiah puts it, that it is not even to come to mind.

We have then looked at some of the supermarket shelves, not for interest, but to apply perspective and to see how sure is the word of God, and how wonderful is its fulfilment when we look, not at the soundings of philosophy, the blemishes of human surmises or the insertions of thought, but at what it actually says, its own definitions, its own liberties, neither compressed by our homogenising, nor expanded by our insertions from our own minds.

The FACTS, then, relative to what the word of God says in this area,  are none of the above. Nevertheless there can be some advantage in seeing what has been done.

Amillenialism usefully draws attention to one fact, while discounting others. Postmillenialism usefully focusses the wonder of the impact of Christ at the first, but appallingly tends to discount both the power of the present by contrast, and the stringent actualities of divine insistence on vindication of the Messiah on earth (as in Psalm 2, 72), and the transcendent power needed so to act, in this world with its ways, alienation and prince. British Israelitism shows us the danger of allowing cultural present, to determine Biblical meaning. Now it is too ludicrous; but in the height of Britain's power, careless disregard of the contexts in the Bible, and dangerous insertions, alike, could give some plausibility to those in love with their own land. We are not however dealing with a love affair of man, but with the love of God, His faithfulness and insistences, which He executes as surely as Texas has executed criminals for so long. With God, however, the execution is a delight, and the performance a pass-word as He continually insists (as in Ezekiel 36-37 and Micah 7). He does what He says to what He defines. It is HIS word.

The term 'premillenial' is not often used here, because as with so many tags, it is often associated in a reader's mind, with some slant, perspective, even with dispensationalism for some, so that it becomes like a political party, meaning this and that to some, according to their experience or something they may have read. It is as has been shown often enough, and in particular in SMR Ch. 7 (pp. 502ff.), the case that a millenium is to come, as observed above also; and in that sense, thi is a pre-millenial time. However so many 'positions' are adopted, that one is not keen to use this term. ONE IS KEEN however to make it clear that a millenium will certainly come, of a length impossible to determine, since the 'thousand years' in Revelation 20 is used in a book so filled with (interpretable Old Testament) symbolism, and in particular with the 1260, 42 months, word from Daniel, which needs interpretation (for which see SMR pp. 959-964)  according to context as does all in its place, that the chronological import is, like the precise time of Christ's return, merely a indication of style. It will occur, will be long enough for all the features noted in the Bible to occur, and time will be no object. It will not be mean.

It is also useful to reflect, that the incentive to approaches such as these, which ignore so many deterrents in the word of God, to make the worse, mean better, the impossible for flesh to endure, mean, marvellous and ready for the return of Christ to His now so manifest kingdom, or anything remotely like this, could at least be comprehended, not in Biblical exegesis, but in cultural stimulus, in an earlier period.

  • Thus when in the early twentieth century, and later nineteenth, there was
  • evolution in the classroom (as ludicrously now),
  • advance in the mind, knowledge in the making (as now, but with a poignancy of hopelessness, because of the evils concurrent),
  • humanistic lust in the fibre of much of society,
  • power in the air,
  • arrogance in the nations which would conquer and prove themselves the best, or in the races:

there was a feeling which could mean: THIS IS MOVING to the wonderful end. We do not NEED (who would! they might muse) the scripturally sure points concerning the worsening to confusion and ruin, before Christ returns in direct impact and destructive power on the assembled peoples who contrive to challenge His kingdom, as in Revelation 19 and I Thessalonians 1. We will have it WITHOUT all that. We will make it and He can take it!


This is not to suggest that all such errors by any means lay in such attitudes, or that error is in every case the result of cultural inroads adding themselves to the word of God, openly. It can be quite surreptitious, people can be deceived. It is rather that some of these considerations show something of the appeal, and intrusion, the assertive, insertive propensity of man, when culture beckons, so that the spirit of the Age seems to call, like a siren, and some seem to listen, albeit without knowing or realising whence the call comes.

IN all this, one thing remains: keep to what it says, not adding, not subtracting, never reducing one context for another, but interpreting, at most, one example as in Zechariah 14, by means of an overall criterion, elsewhere supplied to cover ALL cases.

It is a little unfortunate that so much is made of the millenium, in terminology, as in premillenial, amillenial, postmillenial, when though the millenium will be, has great significance, and is to be discovered from all the contexts in the Bible, other matters loom in immense intensity NOW. The millenium will come, not by philosophy of the foolish thoughts of alienated man: yet, if you want to know the word of God, the present point concerning Israel, is far more important in Christian apologetics, namely that ISRAEL IS, and WAS to come back, is coming back and is doing all that God said, and that this is a PROFOUNDLY IMPORTANT and scripturally explicit case of showing the divine faithfulness to His word. It is vital, since He will IN NOTHING, allow His word to be abolished, but only fulfilled, as Christ declared (Matthew 5:17-20 cf. SMR  Appendix D).

It is part of the pleasantness of the very worship of God, that what He says, He means, does and is faithful to do, even in the most prodigious exploits, as predicted in Micah 7:17 and seen in the Exodus, even as seen on the Cross, in the resurrection, and will be seen in His return. HOW OFTEN the Lord regales Israel in the Psalms with the actual, factual record, and deplores the lack of faith to act on it, in view of these things, or exhorts to do so (as in 78, 105, 106). It is not interpreted by philosophy, by fantasy, by incursion of one's own imagination or excision of the same from the mind of the Lord, not by desire, but BY ITSELF, as HIS speech.

He is the God who acts for the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 64:6), and to the jot and tittle, is committed to performing by His power what He has declared. He does not despise what He has written. He does not rescind His word. This, it is the word of Christ which Matthew transcribes (5:17-20), and history declares to be true from beginning to end.
 
 

*3 "SLAIN" ?
A Pentecostal mode ... not sanctioned here
More on Isaiah 66

There are cases where humour can enter in, even in the sober dimensions of judgment.
It is not at all that the judgment possesses humour, for like the end of cancer, it lacks mirth in entirety. However the misuse of a text of international judgment in some light or obviously improper personal way, to seem to sanction things never authorised by God, has perhaps the same sort of humour that Christ used when He told His adversaries that they were like children who were piped to, and would not dance, for whom wails were made, in play, and they would not moan. In that case, it was that John the Baptist called for mourning, and many were averse; Christ called for rejoicing, in terms of His advent and the grace to be shown, but they would not be glad (Matthew 11:17). Nothing pleased them; they were simply averse!

This evokes the concept of perversity through humour, though the mirth adorned with gravity. It has therefore a most serious message to them.

There is another such instance of a contemporary character, where a grim humour relates to what in these terms, could only be an outlandish approach.

Here we find the course adopted by many Pentecostalists, of being "slain by the Spirit" or some such terminology. There is simply nothing in the Bible to sanction such a practice, as a performance, a routine, a procession in which a person comes, is taken in arms or hand, and then 'slain'. It appears to mean that something like repentance, or like whole hearted reception of the Lord, or renewal, or some combination, surrender, submission, to the power of the Lord, is thought to occur. But where is the authority for this as a practice ? It is not a question of what the LORD may see fit to do to someone at some time; it is rather this: Is the Bible authorising a practice in which people queue for 'treatment' in this manner, at the hands of man ? It is not what the Lord may see fit to do; it is what man may see fit to do in His name, and on what authority they act.

One text which might be suggested lies here, in Isaiah 66:16, which ends: "and the slain of the Lord shall be many." However this verse commences far otherwise than any such practice could handle: "For by fire will the Lord plead, and by His sword, with all flesh." Now someone might dare to suggest that the fire represents something spiritual, and the sword the word of God. It is of course true that symbolism can be used, in the Bible or out of it; but it is also true that in any good writing, the portent of the symbolism is clear. It can vary according to the case, and at times, of course, and the bulk of times, the words are not being symbolic. That is a figure of speech, and even in the most ornate writing, the direct is the norm, the figure the less usual.

However, the point at hand is simple. What is the context here in Isaiah 66 ?

We learn the following in sequence:

       1. That God wants humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at His word (66:2).

       2. that animal sacrifice is going to be superseded (66:3, as in 52-53).

       3. that the leaders of Israel are committing folly in this sphere, and that their delusions will mount, as they ask for folly by perversity (66:4 - as in II Thessalonians 2:10 precisely).

       4. that many who were oppressed and even cast out by their brethren, among the Jewish people, will be vindicated (precisely, once more, as happened to Peter and John, as treated vilely and violently by the priestly party, and yet most blessed as leaders of the people of the Lord, as in Acts 3-5). On the thrones of Israel, they will judge, Christ indicated (Matthew 19:28).

       5. that there is to be recompence, pay-back, judgment on such miscreancy, intolerable twisting of truth and rebellion by the people (66:6).

       6. that there is in fact to be a recovery of Israel and of Jerusalem in particular, a restoration (66:6-9), associated with a brevity, an all but instantaneous advent, re-invention of the desolated nation (and all this is in the time frame indexed by Isaiah 52-55 and so on, post-Messianic, so that the reference to perversity and animal sacrifice has its fitting place). It is to be one of a very different character to that of the past, in its program, for there will be a consummation!

       7. that this is to be occasion for great rejoicing (66:10), and incredible aid will be received by Israel on its return to its land, re-institution as a State, so suddenly (as occurred as shown in SMR Ch. 9).

       8. that there is to be a time of comfort (it has come in help and military victories as predicted in Zechariah 12, to precede the spiritual conversion of so many of those of the new State of Israel, as denoted in Zech. 12:10 and Ezekiel 36-37), eventually to be of great depth (66:11ff.).

       9. that "the hand of the LORD shall be known by His servants and His indignation  against His enemies" (66:14), so that anger and judgment ensue, NOT on Israel, but on their adversaries.

       10. that in exhibiting this indignation and anger, the Lord will emply fire, chariots like a whirlwind, designations, if you want symbols, of military power, slaughter and fighting.

       11. that this will render "HIS REBUKE" and the reason ('for') why this may be seen as rebuke (66:16) is that He will use fire and the sword to  institute that rebuke.

       12. that many people will be slain by these means, so attesting the indignation and rebuke, and the power and judgment of the Lord.

       13. that this is in keeping with the foul sins of idolatry and abominable religious practices with which the people had provoked the Lord (66:17).

       14. that the Lord is all too aware of their violations and vileness of heart, contrary to truth and to the divine covenant (66:18).

       15. that it is in view of all this that He will send forth missionaries to those who have not seen His glory, and these will involve Gentiles in a New Covenant so that even they, not even part of Israel at all, can serve as ministers of righteousness, replacing the former priestly mode (66:18-21).

       16. that this is one way in which the Lord will preserve the newly instituted and anciently assured and apportioned nation of Israel, and it will lead on to hell itself as a testimony (66:24), while the new heavens and the new earth are likewise assured (rest of chapter).
 

   While then any endeavour to use this military, retributive, judgmental chapter of:
 

   deliverance of the people of Israel, by the sword and chariot, from their enemies, NOT in oversight of their sins, but in a divine program at last to free them from them (as in Micah 7 precisely),

   as a base or basis for some sort of spiritual ceremony in a church is ludicrous,

such an error makes it proper to examine the sequence in this chapter, which is a thing useful and edifying.

 

Particularly of interest is the reversion in 66:17, in a brief reminder of the sins of ISRAEL itself, before the reference to the missionary activity, which has in fact gone on for so long, millenia already, begun by such as Peter and Paul, of Israel indeed, and jointly continued by many both Jew and Gentile. It evokes the sense that the faithfulness of the Lord to His promises to Abraham (as in Micah 7:20) is by no means in obliteration or even mitigation of their sins, but exactly as in Ezekiel 36:22, despite them!

The change to occur in the heart of many of Israel as in Ezekiel 37, Zech. 12:10, in due course, and in the very midst of these armed contests and wars, is one of the necessities therefore of the case. It is interwoven, as Zechariah shows, with the very thunder of war, the implacable hatred of Israel's enemies, and as Deuteronomy 32 put it from the beginning, the action of the Lord comes when He sees "that their strength is gone".

In one sense the saga of Israel is not diverse in spirit from that of many others: it comes from misuse of gifts, pride, pomp, folly, deepening sins, false spiritual actions and gods, hypocrisy, hollowness of heart, adverse events, prodigious afflictions, realisation of emptiness and need, impotence in spiritual things entirely, exhibition by the Lord to the soul of its iniquity, as only He knows how, with depth, precision and penetration, conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment as in John 16, and then deliverance in repentance precisely as in Zech. 12:10, in essence. Such things the scriptures repeatedly relate.

In another sense, it is both more national, more military, more land oriented, more involved with cited and unique preliminaries, as in the promise and indeed oath to Abraham, cited by Micah and considered in detail from the text of the Bible,  in Ch. 4 above. It is simply a particular case, and in one sense, EACH case is particular, for each individual; but in this instance, it is a trumpet blast to the world, a testimony to the nations, an insertion into the world history program, an elevation of style so that what God started as a people to show forth His praise (Isaiah 43:21), is used to the end, not as some frustrated mistake, but as a glorious counsel and fulfilment of wisdom (which IS justified by her children, as Christ declared), so that the weakness becomes strength, the evil is turned to good, and the follies are redeemed, becoming instruments, in their overthrow, of righteous instruction (as expressly declared in Ezekiel 36:18-23 in great detail, and 37:8,28).

In those places in Ezekiel, it is most manifest that it matters to the divine counsel enormously, that there should be no confusion in the nations, occasioned by the discipline of Israel. It is emphatically NOT because God is weak, or unreliable, or fitful, like idols or human thoughts that rest on themselves in arbitrary pomp and puny invalidity (cf. That Magnificent Rock Ch. 5, and Barbs, Arrows and Balms  6 - 7) . Not at all: the discipline was forecast, the result was detailed before it became history, the restoration was predicted, the vindication is specialised with the Gospel as the necessary advent for their souls, while the restoration of the nation is contrary to demerit, and provided with a power comparable to that used in the Exodus, and detailed in its dimensions in Zechariah 12, and in its happenings, as in the division of Jerusalem into two (fulfilled 1948) in Zech. 14.

Just as in Isaiah 66:14ff., you see express attestation of the FURY of the Lord, in which He comes, not to bless but to demolish, not for benediction in salvation but for retribution with zeal for His people, in judging all flesh, not in remitting the sins of some (66:16), so you see the same terminal-type episodes in Isaiah 30, where in the day that the Lord binds up the wound of His people (30:26), when “the light of the sun will be sevenfold”, and it is then that there will be a “bridle in the jaws of the people causing them to err”, scarcely a work of redemption in the Spirit (30:28). Indeed, this is the Chapter in Isaiah where it is written “for a time to come, for ever and ever”, that this is “a rebellious people”, one who say “to the seers, Do not see”, so that their judgments to come are in view and in mind. It is thus that the Messiah in Isaiah 32 is seen in His reign, as in Isaiah 9:7ff., and Isaiah 11.

ALWAYS in these multiplied contexts, it is the fury is to the enemies of the Lord who have afflicted His people, and the healing is to a people who first were His, then erred, then received discipline, and now are to be healed from their wounds differentially, while their still agile oppressors receive their judgment for all that they have done, are doing and plan to do.

That is to be a “day of the great slaughter” (30:25), and of what kind ? It is the kind associated with “the name of the Lord” coming “from afar”, and “His lip are full of indignation, and His tongue with devouring fire”, for it comes “burning with anger”. Endeavours to turn these many parallel passages in Isaiah and Micah and Joel, where retributive deliverance of a sinning Israel is now being fierily accomplished, wrought in the midst of, and to the detriment of its many earthly enemies, into some sort of blessing on those who come to Him, are worse than invasion of the text.

 

Rather do they represent a categorical distortion which is to turn curse, to blessing; for if the FURY and the SLAYING is retributive on those who have acted against His people, how is it for the benefit of these who are not here exhibited as those to become His people, but His butt ? And if the nations receive this impact of fury, how is it not the nations, but the individual lives of those being blessed which are ravaged through divine vengeance ? To take a diverse subject in an opposite manner is the very nadir of exegesis, and with whatever intention, the glamour of brigandage against the word of the Lord. It is to be taken AS IT COMES, and not as it goes in some philosophy.

If His people have greatly erred, and so been disciplined, while those who have carried on the judgments to oppress them are the butt of the divine fury, how does this mean that those who turn in repentance to the Lord are the recipients of His salvation, or that the slaying is on the one hand the retributive curse and on the other the individualised blessing!

Divine action with scattering hailstones on Israel’s enemies means kind action with deep blessing on the now converted ? (30:30), and the Assyrian being beaten down is in some cryptic fashion to mean to assert that the soul will be shriven, forgiven and restored ? In fact, the whole point is this, that in all these contexts, there is but one language, and Micah 7 dramatises it exceedingly.

It is that of the oppressed and disobedient, called nation, which strayed from the Lord whom it had known, now brought home to the Lord after a huge period of oppression from the opportunistic enemies who have stricken it: so that on the one hand there is the group inheriting slaying and fury, and on the other, a quite different group inheriting restoration and forgiveness. To confuse this is to make Germany the author of D-day, or the Russians the first inhabitants of the moon.

The use, however, of divine implements of rebuke to the nations in the fulfilment of a grand plan of enormous depth of counsel (as in Romans 11:33), is not a ground for the use of a ceremony in a Pentecostal or other religious body, for blessed dealings without such military means, without such a purpose, without such a result. If perversity needed a very symbol, this would serve admirably.
 

 

NOTICE

You may now care to look at
LITTLE THINGS giving attention to the delicate nuance, fragrance of the prophetic word, in things for some, seemingly inconsequential, but in fact of vital significance.